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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Politics > Republican congressmen’s threats of revoking protected status of El Salvadoran immigrants are repulsive and demands an apology

Republican congressmen’s threats of revoking protected status of El Salvadoran immigrants are repulsive and demands an apology

LatinaLista — It’s one thing to express an opinion over who should win an election but to use threatening language that is meant to influence the outcome of an election is quite another. In fact, in many circles it would be considered criminal.
Yet, that is what is happening in anticipation of El Salvador’s Sunday presidential elections. It would be expected that such threatening rhetoric would be voiced during a country’s election but some of those threats are coming from our own U.S. Congress.

Members of Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) are but a few of the contingent of observers arriving in El Salvador to observe election proceedings.
(Source: elsalvador.com)

To give a little background:

El Salvador’s civil war in the 1980s was a brutal front in the Cold War that claimed 75,000 lives. The country was a frightening place where right-wing hit men assassinated the archbishop of San Salvador as he celebrated Mass, executed six Jesuit priests in the night and murdered American churchwomen by the side of a highway.
The war ended in 1992 with a peace agreement that allowed leftist guerrillas to trade their guns for participation in a political system long monopolized by wealthy landowners and the military. The ex-rebels’ Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN party, has won many legislative and mayoral seats since then, and Sunday’s national election offers it the first real chance to end two decades of rule by the National Republican Alliance, or Arena party.

The alleged fear of those opposed to FMLN winning is that they will take the country in the direction of Venezuela’s leader, Hugo Chavez. Though popular media doesn’t portray the FMLN leadership like that, there are some who want the people to believe that — and some of those critics are sitting in the United States Congress.


Recently, two Republican congressmen, Trent Franks (R-Ariz) and Dan Burton (R-Ind) went on record to say that if FMLN won the election on Sunday it would be very bad for the 2.5 million El Salvadoran immigrants in the United States.
The U.S. congressmen said if FMLN won then Salvadoran immigrants who live in the U.S. could see their “temporary protected status” revoked which allows them to work and live here legally. These two government leaders also said that the remittances being sent by Salvadoran immigrants to their families back home could be blocked.
The crazy thing is that these men, regardless of their positions, don’t have the authority to speak for this country or administration. Yet, because of their arrogance in using their public platforms to attempt to influence a democratic election in another country, it forced the Obama Administration to release a statement emphasizing the neutrality of the United States and the fact that we would work with whomever won the election.
I seem to remember that during our own presidential election when people from around the world voiced their opinions as to who should win our election, it rankled many Republican leaders that someone who wasn’t a U.S. citizen would pass judgement on our elections. The usual Republican response was that those people should “stay out” of American politics.
Needless to say, that is the feeling among many people, not just in El Salvador, but throughout Central and South America who have grown up seeing firsthand the covert interference by the American government that has always favored the rich and elite.
It’s easy to understand why there has been such a political backlash in South America in recent years with people turning to those parties that are more aligned with the common and/or indigenous people.
However, it wouldn’t be fair to Congressmen Franks and Burton to assume they were trying to influence the election in El Salvador without getting a comment from either of them.
So, Latina Lista called their press secretaries and left messages with both — one on voicemail and the other directly — asking for comment from them on whether or not it was fair to say they were trying to influence the El Salvador election.
By deadline, neither has called or emailed a requested statement.
Maybe it’s because they know most people consider the comments they made to be their desperate attempt to gain 15 minutes of fame.
One person who did respond to Latina Lista’s questions regarding the Congressmen’s statements was Rice University professor of political science, Mark Jones. Dr. Jones has studied El Salvador’s politics extensively and has conducted research on the country’s postwar political environment.

“For the first time since the end of the Salvadoran Civil War in 1992, the candidate of the former guerrillas (the FMLN) has a realistic chance of victory against the candidate of the governing party (ARENA), which has held power since 1989.
On the temporary protection status (TPS) issue. The threats (by Republican congressmen) are primarily political hyperbole, designed to help the ARENA candidate (Rodrigo Avila). Given that these legislators (e.g., Connie Mack, Dana Rohrabacher) belong to a party that is now in the minority in the Senate and House and also does not control the Executive Branch, their opinions will have no impact on actual TPS status of Salvadoran immigrants in the United States or on future U.S.-Salvadoran relations.
However, they are likely to have some impact on the Salvadoran election, since they are part of a broader effort to convince voters that a victory by Mauricio Funes and the FMLN would have negative consequences for the Salvadoran economy and democracy.
In regard to the future of Salvadoran TPS status, I suspect the Obama Administration will not do anything to change the status quo anytime soon. TPS status for Salvadorans was able to continue throughout the Bush Administration primarily due to the strong relationship between the Bush Administration and the Saca Administration (e.g., El Salvador maintained troops in Iraq until the very end of the Bush Administration as well as took the lead in Central America on CAFTA-DR).

When asked by Latina Lista which party should win, Professor Jones said:

On the election choice, I think both candidates/parties have their strengths and weaknesses, but will leave the decision regarding which is best to the Salvadorans on Sunday.

It is a stand we all should take — and those Republican congressmen who felt the need to threaten El Salvadoran immigrants should issue a public apology and be fined by their colleagues for misusing their political platform within the halls of Congress to spread fear among an already vulnerable population.

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Comment(24)

  • Avatar
    Horace
    March 13, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    “Needless to say, that is the feeling among many people, not just in El Salvador, but throughout Central and South America who have grown up seeing firsthand the covert interference by the American government that has always favored the rich and elite.”
    This may be true, but Latin Americans tend to select between two alternatives, the corrupt in power, ie your rich and elite, and your Maxists, like Chavez. Either way your people suffer just as the Cubans did under Batista and finally under Castro. As usual, your diatribes tend to be one-sided oversimplifications. You talk as if our motives were completely evil. When Americans supported the rich and elite, it was like choosing between the devil subject to change under our influence or accepted for their stability and the devil we cannot; the communist revolutionaries. The latter tended to spread their form of tyranny to other countries in a region, while the former usually remained content with what they had. Regardless of who we picked, the natives suffered, either from the repression of communism, or that of the greedy autocrats. We stopped doing that decades ago, but Latin Americans still use this as an excuse to absolve themselves of their own failures. Shamefully, our own countrymen fall for this ploy and continue to use it as a justification for illegal immigration. You and other Latinos tend to blame Latin America’s woes completely on your own country, when much of their present day problems their responsibility, often leading to civil war of their own making.

  • Avatar
    Carolina
    March 13, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    That is disgusting. This is the side of Republicanism I cannot stand. I commend the Obama administration for not putting up with this fear mongering.

  • Avatar
    Horace
    March 14, 2009 at 8:35 am

    “So, Latina Lista called their press secretaries and left messages with both — one on voicemail and the other directly — asking for comment from them on whether or not it was fair to say they were trying to influence the El Salvador election.
    By deadline, neither has called or emailed a requested statement.
    Maybe it’s because they know most people consider the comments they made to be their desperate attempt to gain 15 minutes of fame.”
    And maybe they’re too busy to talk to every obscure pundit who rings them up. If I hadn’t stumbled upon this blog one day, I wouldn’t have known of your existence.
    It’s too bad that you don’t direct the same righteous anger at the Mexican government who’ve been pulling strings on dual national Americans to obstruct our immigration enforcement laws. Where’s the righteous and patriotic indignation about the Mexican government’s blatant aiding and abetting of illegal immigration through the opening of additional consulates and issuance of Matricular Consular Cards. Your silence amounts to complicity in the subversion of our laws. It’s obvious that you belong to the world community of Latinos first and are a U.S. citizen second. This won’t gain you any friends from your fellow Americans who view themselves as having one allegiance and won’t accept the burdens of Mexico as their own.

  • Avatar
    Senor Pescado
    March 14, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    most latinas post as anonymous, and most do not respond to e mails
    sentido comun, Hoarce, they do not have
    I live in El Salvador since 1994, this 30 years of crap from USA is over, everywhere these 2 congressmen need to read ‘Term Limits’ by Vince Flynn, best they shoot themselves now
    such idiots this Burton has been from day one
    a real embarrassment for any traveled educated gringo

  • Avatar
    Idler
    March 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Without more detail about the Congressmen’s statements, it’s hard to know what to think about this. Surely elections can have diplomatic consequences, and those consequences can effect the typically reciprocal immigration relationships between countries.
    However, imagine if a new U.S. administration commandeered the property of Salvadoran business owners in the United States. Surely that would be genuinely outrageous. Well, that’s what leftist regimes have done to Americans (and other investors) repeatedly over the last few decades.

  • Avatar
    laura
    March 16, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Apparently the Salvadorean people were not impressed by the threats of two representatives of a party rejected soundly by the majority of the American people – the Republican party. They voted against the Arena candidate.
    Throughout Latin America, people have recently been rejecting the right-wing remnants of military dictatorships installed and supported by the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. (There is an excellent chapter about this in Naomi Klein’s superb book “The Shock Doctrine.”)
    Once societies agree on a basic core of human rights for everyone, democracy can develop and a true competition of ideas and personality can flourish. When one side – the side of the super rich – is no longer backed up by guns and torture chambers, everyone will have to justify their policies and their behaviors in the court of public opinion.
    Sadly, many countries are so scarred and devastated by the violence wreaked upon them by US-backed dictatorships and their follow-up regimes, that it will probably be a long time before the pathologies caused by this violence will heal. Central American countries like El Salvador are among the most devastated. But life can move forward.

  • Avatar
    Idler
    March 17, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Laura, left wing tyrants always talk in grand humanistic abstractions, but the reality is always sordid. It’s not just the “super rich” who suffer under the Castros, Ortegas, Chaveses and, yes, Allendes.
    Whatever the wrongs of the regimes of the right and their American supporters, the common people of Latin America have never seen their lot improved under far-left governments. Going from authoritarian to totalitarian control is never a step in the right direction.
    I haven’t read “Shock Doctrine,” but it is apparently based on a complete misunderstanding of Milton Friedman’s work, with a huge dose of political paranoia thrown in for good measure. I have seen Klein’s documentary “The Take” (the one about workers seizing an an Argentine factory). The film was interesting on some levels, but among its faults was the most ridiculous summary of Argentine history I’ve ever heard. All in all, Klein appears to never have outgrown the most preposterous and juvenile leftism. She certainly lacks any appreciable level of scholarship and historical perspective.

  • Avatar
    Texano78704
    March 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    …Latin Americans tend to select between two alternatives, the corrupt in power, ie your rich and elite, and your Maxists, like Chavez.
    What delicious irony and an obvious “one-sided oversimplification.” Horace, I seriously doubt you could tell us (without the use of Google) what Marxism is and how exactly Hugo Chávez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela, qualifies as a Marxist (as you purport he does).
    These two Republican clowns are pandering to the “kill a commie for mommie” crowd. The cold war has been over for decades. These two are just pathetic. They should be censured for their statements.

  • Avatar
    Horace
    March 18, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    You don’t make any sense, Panchito. Chavez is clearly a Marxist. The fact that he was democratically elected is irrelevant. He’s clearly a dictator as well. Apparently others support that contention, as there are thousands of Google hits supporting my assertion, you disdain of this notwithstanding.

  • Avatar
    Idler
    March 19, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Texano maybe you would like to actually argue a position with respect to what’s been written instead of the name calling. Tal vez tienes miedo.

  • Avatar
    Texano78704
    March 20, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Poor little Horace, still making mindless assertions and unable to create an argument to sustain them. Just give us a textbook definition of Marxism and how it applies to Chávez, instead of B.S. excuses.
    Whatever the wrongs of the regimes of the right and their American supporters, the common people of Latin America have never seen their lot improved under far-left governments. Going from authoritarian to totalitarian control is never a step in the right direction.
    Given that “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” are pretty much the same thing, perhaps you may want to elucidate on your statement, Idler. And you may want to avoid the use of “never.”
    In the 1960’s and 70’s, most of Latin America still had various forms of left leaning, statist type governments. Economic growth during that period was in excess of 20%. Economic growth under so-called “free market” reforms pretty much came to a grinding halt for the next two decades. Starting in the 1980’s, with Reagan, there was a push to the right. It included the use of economic force via the World Bank and IMF. Not exactly my idea of improvement.
    Idler, are you sure you want to stick with “never seen their lot improved?” Maybe you meant to apply that to “right-wing governments” instead.

  • Avatar
    Idler
    March 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Authoritarian and totalitarian are by no means “pretty much the same thing.” I see you also fail to distinguish between left-leaning and far-left. I referenced the latter.
    Do try to read more carefully in future. And take a moment to research the differences between authoritarian and totalitarian govenrments.
    You might also compare the economic fortunes of Chile with just about any more leftish country. (To save you some trouble with your poor reading comprehension Chile is not adduced as an example of a far-right country, though when it was further right it compared very favorably with countries as far left.)

  • Avatar
    Lea Ortiz
    March 20, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Your hatred of Republicans is lethal. Yet it is nothing new. It is nourished by the Democrat party. Demonizing Republicans does not change the fact that we now have a Marxist President. He is changing our country into a Socialist nation at a rapid pace. Large government, more taxes, open borders, more illegals, government control. We as Americans have an obligation to try to change our rapidly decaying government. We are not black, white, hispanic, oriental. We are Americans. Right Marisa?

  • Avatar
    Idler
    March 21, 2009 at 9:13 am

    On the “what makes Chávez a Marxist front,” I see that the tyrant of Caracas is nationalizing (i.e., stealing) Banco Santander’s Venezuelan operation.

  • Avatar
    Texano78704
    March 22, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    He is changing our country into a Socialist nation at a rapid pace. Large government, more taxes, open borders, more illegals, government control.
    Shouldn’t that be in past tense? Because you have certainly describe the Bush administration to a tee: massive Wall Street bailout, the largest increase in government size and spending in recent history, total inaction on immigration, trillion dollar expansion of government entitlements as a result of the Medicare Part D legislation. And then there is the hidden tax: inflation. Thank Bush and the Republican party for that.
    You might also compare the economic fortunes of Chile with just about any more leftish country. (To save you some trouble with your poor reading comprehension Chile is not adduced as an example of a far-right country, though when it was further right it compared very favorably with countries as far left.)
    Sounds like a story in the making on your part, fictional of course. North American businessman, aided by Nixon did their best to crush Chile’s economy under Allende, helping pave a road for a CIA assisted coup.
    When fascist dictator Pinochet deposed democratically elected President Allende, the “Chicago Boys” and their implementation of “free market” economic reforms were a smashing success — at putting Chile’s economy in the crapper. This “right wing” government had to “go Marxist” on many of their policies, going so far as to nationalize some banks for a time. Chile’s economic saving grace was and is its natural resources, like copper.
    Since you have your own definitions, Idler, why not tell us how authoritarian and totalitarian are not similar?

  • Avatar
    Idler
    March 22, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Texano, if you can’t acknowledge what Allende’s own policies did to the Chilean economy there’s no point in talking. Allende’s efforts at central planning and confiscation of privately held enterprise were as successful as any have ever had, which is to say they were an unmitigated disaster, including world record inflation and massive shortages.
    Those ravages, combined with Allende’s dismantling of the country’s constitutional order and the arming of a parallel army provoked sufficient unrest among the Chileans themselves to wish to overthrow Allende. The Americans wanted this outcome, and the CIA undoubtedly worked to attain it, but it’s efforts were insignificant, when everything is weighed in the balance.
    I just love how Allende is always referred to as “democratically elected.” That’s true but misleading. Do you know how he squeaked into office? And are you aware that it required that his party, the Unidad Popular, had to negotiate an agreement with the Christian Democrats? He subsequently broke that deal (formalized in the Statute of Democratic Guarantees), and if you were honest (if indeed you even know this) you would acknowledge that. It wasn’t the CIA that called for the armed forces to intervene, it was Chile’s own Chamber of Deputies.

  • Avatar
    Texano78704
    March 23, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Texano, if you can’t acknowledge what Allende’s own policies did to the Chilean economy there’s no point in talking.
    Then stop talking. Quit pretending that leftist and left-leaning governments automatically spell doom and disaster. You are no better than the two Republican clowns who generalized about the FMLN.

  • Avatar
    Idler
    March 24, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Quit pretending that leftist and left-leaning governments automatically spell doom and disaster.
    Where exactly have I pretended that, Tex? I said leftward governments compare unfavorably to rightward ones.
    Seems like a little projection on your part.
    Perhaps it’s all you’ve got left since your arguments, such as they are, haven’t fared too well.

  • Avatar
    Texano78704
    March 24, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    And I’m still waiting to hear you come up with an argument, unless your comments delegitimizing Allende’s presidency and your endorsment of extra-constitutional actions like military coups constitute an argument.
    All you really are here for is to parse statements and try to make others look ignorant. Well, pat yourself on the back, as I know you will any way.

  • Avatar
    Idler
    March 25, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    A little help here, Tex: my argument was that your reference to Allende as a “democratically elected leader” was misleading. What got Allende overthrown was precisely his undemocratic behavior and violating the Statute of Democratic Guarantees. If you took arguments seriously you would either acknowledge what I said or come up with a genuine counter-argument.

  • Avatar
    Texano78704
    March 26, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Misleading… in what sense? Explain which specific part of his election to the position as president of Chile was non-democratic? Your argument appears to be that thin margins based on tenuous coalitions is somehow unworthy of being called “democracy,” or part of the “democratic process.” Again, since you seem to have your own definitions, at what point are election margins officially “democratic?”
    What got Allende overthrown was precisely his undemocratic behavior and violating the Statute of Democratic Guarantees.
    What got Allende overthrown was an extra-constitutional action sponsored by the CIA. Why are you trying to legitimize that?

  • Avatar
    Idler
    March 28, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Tex, the circumstances of Allende’s election were unusual and are highly relevant. Allende did not have enough votes to become president. The election wasn’t enough to get him into office.
    His tenure was subject to the provisions of the Statute of Democratic Guarantees, which he violated.
    Allende’s overthrow was favored by the CIA but it was in no serious sense “sponsored.”
    Chile was on the brink of civil war and the Chamber of Deputies took extraordinary action. Any honest observer will acknowledge that Allende brough the country to a constitutional crisis through his attempt to remake the country beyond his constitutional authority.
    The Chileans en masse never wanted a Communist country, so the ambition to sneak in Communism through a democratic election was doomed to fail. It inevitably resulted in fracturing the constitutional order, which in Chile was particularly strong, relative to other Latin American countries. In the process, Allende instituted the kind of central economic control that had the kind of results that have become all too predictable.
    So the question to you is how do you legitimize Allende’s violation of the Statute of Democratic Guarantees, which was the pledge he made in order to get the support of the Christian Democrats in the resolution of the election crisis?

  • Avatar
    Texano78704
    March 28, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    “The circumstances of Allende’s election were unusual” is what you call the margin at which democracy ceases to exist? That’s a pretty bland description.
    The coup was not “sponsored” by the CIA? Yeah right!
    To suggest that “Chileans en masse never wanted a Communist country” is pure demogoguery, very much along the same lines of the tripe that the two Republicans in this article regurgitating.
    I do not legitimize “Allende’s violation of the Statute of Democratic Guarantees,” or at least your assertion that Allende did violate it. If he did violate, where is the proof that the government (not the military) was taking the required steps for his removal under Chilean law? You continue legitimize an extra-constitutional military coup.

  • Avatar
    Idler
    March 30, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I’ve already acknowledged that the CIA wanted Allende to be overthrown. That fact is frequently adduced to suggest that the coup was CIA engineered, which it wasn’t. Authors who are far from being rightist have come to the same conclusions.
    How is it “demagoguery” to say Chileans never wanted a Communist country since they never voted en masse for Communism? This is why it’s so important to understand exactly how Allende got into office, and under precisely what conditions. The political wing that enabled his ascension had fears about him, which is why they insisted on the Statute of Democratic Guarantees.
    The very same people who insisted on that guarantee were among those who asked the army to intervene. It’s telling that you don’t even seem to be aware of the Statute of Democratic Guarantees and of the specific actions taken by the legislature. If you did know about that, you would realize that Chile was in a constitutional crisis.
    Your understanding of the crisis can only be improved by studying what the Chilean legislature actually did, and why they themselves said why they did it. Frankly, it amazes me that you feel that you understand this event without having looked at some of its chief characteristics and documents.
    Clearly you have no sense of the state of emergency that Chile was in, and the forces of violence that were gathering on both the left and the right.

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